A mother’s battle

“Voices of Alzheimer’s Caregivers” is a series of experiences and stories of caregivers who could be professionals or family members collected by Oman Observer in coordination with Oman Alzheimer’s Society as the world marks Alzheimer’s Month.  The mother who nourished you begins to forget herself, her home and her songs – Masoud al Riyami recollects the journey of being a caregiver.

A mother, someone who nourishes her children, teaches them morals, and wouldn’t trade them for the world. My mother was a strong independent woman who had great influence on our upbringing and I would like to share the story of her battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
She lived a long life of 90 years and people knew her for her determination and strong will. Her personality was such that when she entered a room, it would instantly light up with her presence and her vibrant, colourful sense of dressing would grab everyone’s attention. She was charismatic and would blend in with people of all ages and backgrounds.
I remember waking up to her harmonious voice, as my siblings and I would rush downstairs to watch her cook our favourite dishes while she sang Classical Arabic songs. We would stay up at night watching classic movies with her and she would dazzle us with her divine poetry.
Family members of all ages frequently consulted her for advice, and she would always guide them to the right path. She was strong believer who prayed during the day and late at night and always recited the Holy Quran, turning to Allah was her therapy.
She was happily married to the man of her dreams and they loved and cherished each other until my father’s last breath. They had 8 beloved children, as the youngest I was constantly pampered and protected by my parents and siblings.
The passing away of my father had a great impact on all of us especially my mum who felt a huge void in her life. I lived in the same house with my mum and eldest sister and had to drop everything in order to be there for her the way she was always there for us.
My mother had several medical conditions which required frequent hospital visits but where well controlled and managed. However, four years before passing away, she started to exhibit new symptoms which completely changed our lives.
It began with her being unable to recall where she placed items and then progressed until she became irritated with the slightest inconveniences and would refuse to eat.
I discussed this alarming situation with my siblings, and we all agreed that our mother needs to be seen by a specialist, who diagnosed her case as Alzheimer’s disease and prescribed her special drugs. Life started changing as my once lovely mum who filled the house with her beautiful voice became muted and suppressed.
She quickly deteriorated experiencing sleepless nights with constant hallucinations that left me helpless and terrified. She would suddenly feel like a stranger in her own house, “Where am I?”, “Whose house is this?”, “I want to go back home!”, she would say.At first, I didn’t know how to deal with it and tried to convince her that it was her own house, but she insisted that it wasn’t. I came up with an idea of getting her into my car, go for a short ride around the area, and then back to our house indicating that we have reached home. We were all heartbroken as we watched her slowly changing — we missed her singing and her amazing laugh.
As time has progressed, her symptoms began to worsen, and she exhibited more and more symptoms every day.  Sleepless nights with constant hallucinations that left us helpless and terrified. She would see images of people dressed in white rob walking around the house.
As her caregiver, I had to find different solutions for her worsening condition and at times had to call my elder brother who sang and played classical songs for her and she wound start singing along remembering the old days. Every day was challenge and become part of life as long as mum was happy we were ready to do anything for her but as mentioned in the verses of the Holy Quran “every  soul will taste death” and four years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer my beloved mum sadly passed away leaving us with memories that live in us forever.
A mother is someone who nourishes her children, teaches them morals, and would not trade them for the world. My mother was a strong independent woman who had great influence on our upbringing.